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Invest in Caherlohan or Cusack Park?

CLARE GAA county secretary, Pat Fitzgerald favours completing the Caherlohan project, near Tulla, ahead of improvements at Cusack Park. In his report, which will be presented to the annual convention on Thurrsday night next, he says, “Personally speaking, I think we have to prioritise Caherlohan ahead of Cusack Park. That’s my opinion but ultimately it is you the clubs of Clare who will be the final arbitrators. He acknowledges the board will have to invest further in upgrading Cusack Park, particularly the playing surface. “After any prolonged period of rain, the surface badly deteriorates and this year, not for the first time, games had to be moved to alternative venues in order to avoid the embarrassment of the county grounds not being able to host games. This year’s county hurling final was played in a continuous downpour and on a pitch that cut up badly. So bad were conditions that Sixmilebridge supporters were banned from getting onto Cusack Park to …

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David Fitzgerald, Clare manager celebrates with Saoirse Bulfin following the All-Ireland senior hurling final replay against Cork at Croke Park. Photograph by John Kelly.

Davy’s appointment based on coaching pedigree

  IN a detailed report to next week’s Clare GAA convention, Clare secretary Pat Fitzgerald had nailed on the head the notion that nepotism came into play when his son Davy was appointed as Clare manager in 2011, writes Seamus Hayes. “I have to admit I was taken aback by the degree of cynicism to the appointment of Davy to the Clare job initially. Opinion was clearly divided and he had to work hard to win the cynics over”, Fitzgerald says in his report which is being circulated to clubs this weekend. “I came in for a share of criticism myself, being accused of nepotism, matching the cronyism that has dogged the Irish political system over the years. But such an assertion couldn’t have been further from the truth. Davy’s appointment was based on his coaching pedigree not on family loyalties. I was subjected to a lot of stick, but I stuck to my guns and I think as events …

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Referees honour Dunne and Sutton

TWO of Clare’s best known soccer referees have been honoured by their peers for their contribution to the game. Paddy Dunne, a founder member of the Clare Soccer Referees Association and now its president, was honoured for his contribution to the branch since its formation in 1971, while Padraic Sutton, one of the branch’s younger members, was honoured for his achievement in achieving FIFA qualification. For Paddy Dunne, it was a nostalgic and emotional occasion on Monday night, as he was joined by some of his fellow referees from the early 1970s at the West County Hotel. Clare Referees chairman Frankie Coote paid tribute to both men and said he was particularly delighted with the attendance. “Both presentations are merited. Paddy Dunne has been a member of this branch since it was formed. If we are the branch then Paddy Dunne is definitely the root, as he was part of it since the start. He has kept us together. To …

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Howard quits at Kerry hurling boss

CLARECASTLE’S Tommy Howard has stepped down from his post of manager of the Kerry senior hurlers citing a lack of commitment by some players as the reason for his sudden departure. Howard and his management team, which also included fellow Clarecastle man Fergie 0’Loughlin as trainer, issued a joint statement to a meeting of the Kerry County Board last week outlining the reasons behind their decision. Speaking on Radio Kerry, Howard said he and his management team felt the Kerry team had to “up their game for next year’s league and saw pre-season training as key to this.” “The management team met six weeks ago and tried to critically review the 2013 season and what we needed to do to improve on our performance in 2014. We met the county board and received a positive response from them on our plans. One of the critical areas we identified was to improve the general fitness of all the players. This would …

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Clare always in control

Clare League              2 Desmond League     0 IT was mission accomplished as Clare’s junior soccer squad secured a quarter-final place in the Oscar Traynor inter-league competition, accounting for Desmond League at the County Grounds on Saturday evening. The win sealed the team’s place at the top of the group, which puts them into the last eight of the competition. The victory could have been much greater margin had they converted all the chances created, a fact team manager Liam Murphy attributed to Clare being uncomfortable in the role of favourites. Desmond League, already out of contention, travelled to Doora with just 12 players and were forced to make a change shortly before half-time when John Kelleher was introduced in place of the injured Kieran Trander. The visitors almost took the lead in the very first attack of the game. After just 30 seconds, Clare goalkeeper John Mulready was rather casual in clearing his line and almost paid the price. Seconds later, …

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Fixture structure must change

IF the fixtures are structured properly in the county, it is possible for players to play hurling and football with success at club level. That’s the view of Cratloe star Conor McGrath, who left Pairc na nGael in Limerick bitterly disappointed. “If the fixtures are structured properly in the county, it’s possible to do both. If they are structured the same as this year, there’s not a hope. The way the championships were run off this year was not conducive to a football and a hurling team doing well. “We’d be hopeful that the county board will do something about this and a couple of matches in the football and hurling would be played in May, June and July every year, so that we won’t have a situation we had this year,” said McGrath, who was outstanding in attack on Sunday. Asked if it’s possible to play both codes at inter-county level, the All-Star hurler replied, “I’m not involved in …

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Players give last drop in epic second half

Dr Crokes 0-13 Cratloe 0-12 NOBODY noticed the December 1 sky darkening over the Gaelic Grounds on Sunday afternoon. Not a sinner in the 2,384 attendance was concerned about anything other than the unfolding drama they had paid €15 to witness. They probably had to seek a second opinion to back up what they were seeing, as Cratloe fought until the last kick of what has been an epic 2013 for their club and their multi-decorated men in blue. Eight points down after 24 minutes (0-10 to 0-2), Cratloe led the now three in-a-row Munster champions (0-12 to 0-11) with just four minutes left of what has been a mind-blowing season for Clare and Cratloe GAA. With Dr Crokes on the ropes, history beckoned invitingly for the first-time Clare senior football champions. Yet despite having only registered a single point in the preceding 33 minutes of football, the Kerry champions didn’t buckle. Even with Colm Cooper sitting in the Mackey …

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Cratloe – a football club that dabbles in hurling?

IN the aftermath of Cratloe’s county semi-final win over Éire Óg, Óige Murphy issued a few words to the media that were steeped in honesty, albeit somewhat eyebrow-raising. “I suppose we’re known as a hurling team, who kind of dabble in the football,” the Cratloe wing-back said in the middle of the pitch in Clarecastle on Sunday, November 3. Just over a month later, that statement could be justifiably revised. Now that Cratloe have established themselves as a football club that dabbles in a bit of hurling, the demands on their most capable dual players will increase exponentially. If the Clare senior football team is to have a realistic chance of emerging from Division 4, they need the input of players such as Cathal McInerney, Conor Ryan, Liam Markham, Podge and Seán Collins. All of them have played football for Clare from U-14 to U-21 levels and, in fact, the latter three have already played inter-county senior football. Let’s not …

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